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Published: Tuesday, 4/22/2014 - Updated: 8 months ago

5-point plan unveiled for sustainable area growth

City of Toledo, Lucas County to consider social, economic effects

BY FEDERICO MARTINEZ
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Ten years from now, the water in Lucas County will be clean and won’t have to be treated with expensive chemicals.

There will be a renewed manufacturing surge and people will be flocking to Toledo for good-paying jobs.

Graduation rates will be up, unemployment rates down, and college graduates will return to their hometown because there will be plenty of opportunities for them.

READ: The Sustainability Plan

A pipe dream? Not for the team that's created the Toledo and Lucas County Sustainability Plan. A group that includes city and county officials, nonprofit representatives, and business leaders previewed the “Going Beyond Green Plan” during a meeting with the editorial board at The Blade on Tuesday.

“The goal is to build a sustainable community,” said Lucas County Commissioner Tina Skeldon Wozniak, a member of the planning committee.

The group has spent more than a year studying problems and possible solutions. The result is five catalyst projects to help organize action and ensure progress. They are the source-water action plan, green infrastructure portfolio standard, complete streets, economic localization, and better buildings program of Northwest Ohio.

The projects will complement each other and further help develop other aspects of the county, Ms. Wozniak said.

“This plan helps us do what will make Toledo attractive,” said Tim Murphy, Toledo’s commissioner of environmental services and a member of the committee. “I’m not sure we’ve always looked at it this way. We’ve started looking at it all in a more holistic light.”

Many of the proposed plans are proactive — attacking potential problems before they occur. A source-water action plan would protect Lake Erie and the Maumee and Ottawa River watersheds by keeping harmful pollutants out of water supplies, not just treating them after the fact.

Peter Ujvagi, Lucas County’s chief of public policy and legislative affairs, said the concept means looking at more than just the environment, but also at “social and economic effects.”

Toledo’s water comes from Lake Erie, Mr. Murphy said. During the past couple of years, the city has been spending increasingly more money pumping chemicals into the water so that it’s safe to drink.

“What are the social effects?” Mr. Murphy said. “What if, and we hope this never happens, there comes a time when Toledo has no more drinkable water? There’s no water going into hospitals?

“That’s scary. That’s also expensive to taxpayers.”

The group also has created a complete streets project to promote walking, bicycling, and public transportation along with car and truck traffic through the region that would not only be attractive to residents today, but future generations, said Melissa Greene, sustainability conservationist for the Lucas Soil and Water Conservation District.

The plan has various benchmarks in place to monitor progress, but the real test will be measured over time, Mr. Murphy and other committee members said.

Contact Federico Martinez at: fmartinez@theblade.com or 419-724-6154.



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